N: I have a confession to make. I do not like recipes and am secretly of the opinion that recipes are a sure shot way of taking the fun out of cooking. My mother was always tinkering even with the basics and meal times were never boring. Mother and I spent a lot of time dissecting a meal and looking for ways of making it better or efficient. My father named it ‘post mortem’ and was not particularly fond of the ritual. However, luckily for him, he was mostly pleased with the end results.
I have been told that I will be banned from this blog if I do not share some recipes. Yes, Anirban is a big fan of recipes.
This is a simple vegetarian supper for two and takes about 40 minutes to cook.
Please use the recipe as a framework. Make it your own and let me know how it goes.
Do not be afraid of the sweetness or the starchiness of the sweet potato. The secret of its goodness is in its colour.
– Start by chopping 1 small white onion.
– Gently heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in sauté pan and add the sliced onion to it. Olive oil has a very low smoking temperature and it is a shame to overheat it.
– Season it with salt and black pepper and cook on a low heat. The onion will take about 10 minutes to soften.
– While the aroma of the fried onions and black pepper fills the room, crush 2-3 cloves of garlic and set aside.
– Then chop 2 small sweet potatoes into bite size chunks.
– By this time the onion would have softened. Add the garlic and sweet potato to the pan.
– Cover the pan and continue to cook at low heat. Add a few drops of water if the pan looks dry.
– If you have any cooked chick peas, haricot beans or green lentils in your fridge now is a good time to add them. This optional ingredient adds protein and a new dimension to the dish.
– You now have about 10 mins. Use this to de-stem the kale. I use about 150/200 gms of curly kale. You have to change it according to your love for greens.
– Check the sweet potato. It should be done but firm. If not continue to cook.
– Boil some water in a big sauce pan and add the penne pasta to it. I use about 70 gm of pasta per person. No I do not measure it but I was forced to do it for this blog.
– Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet but set your alarm to about t-4 mins. For example, if the instruction is to cook the pasta for 10 mins then set your alarm to about 6 mins.
– Add the kale to the pan of water and pasta and cook for another 4 mins. This will leave the kale cooked but crunchy. I like my greens al dente but you may need to adjust timings accordingly.
– Now drain the pasta but keep hold of some of that nice starchy water.
– Mix the sweet potato, onion, pasta and kale in the bigger of the two pans.
– Add a tbsp of virgin olive oil, a few drops of the starchy water, salt, black pepper, some paprika for sweetness and some cayenne pepper for heat.
– Toss, toss, toss and toss again so that all the pasta is well coated with the sweetness of the slightly crumbling potato and everyone gets a fair share of the lovely green.
– Get a sneak preview to ensure the seasoning is to your taste. Adjust accordingly.
– Cover the pan for a few minutes and allow the ingredients to know each other a little better.
– Meanwhile prepare the plates for service.
– If you have hard cheese, grate it – if not better.
Penne Pasta with kale, sweet potatoes, haricot beans and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese